Hold Your Clapbacks

C.S. Lewis recommended discernment over diatribes in exactly the moments we’re most eager to indulge in critique.

I’d just finished reading one of C. S. Lewis’s lesser-known books, Studies in Words, when I happened upon a recent New York Times report on evangelical support for Donald Trump. The former president’s summer of legal woes is off to an early start, and many have asked whether the present trial (or another) will lose him support ahead of Election Day. The answer—among his base, anyway—is undoubtedly no.

If anything, the opposite is true: In some circles, his adversities are hailed as a kind of vindication, his endurance on the campaign trail as a sign of divine blessing. “For some of Mr. Trump’s supporters, the political attacks and legal peril he faces are nothing short of biblical,” the report said. “They’ve crucified him worse than Jesus,” one Trump enthusiast told the Times.

Now, the Lewis book is mostly fascinating linguistic history, but the last chapter examines how we use language to dispense criticism, and its final two pages are precisely the warning our political culture needs as we plod through another contentious election. It’s certainly the warning I need and the warning I hope fellow Christians will heed, particularly those of us in politically diverse families, friend groups, and congregations.

I realized how much I needed it as I read that Times article. It published on Easter Monday and I read it the same day, the drama of Easter weekend fresh on my mind. Suffice it to say, the crucifixion line did not sit well with me.

“Worse than Jesus”! I remember thinking. I agree some of this legal stuff is far-fetched, but are you kidding me? Do these people not know what crucifixion entails? Do they not know Trump probably sleeps on silk …

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